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Industry Insights Blog

What You Don’t Know About Recruiters

Kate Harry Shipham

By Kate Harry

I recently had the opportunity to contribute to an article in Business News Daily (see the article here), and wanted to expand on the topic of what you may not know about recruiters and some insights about this from what we see every day.  This is both from the perspective of the candidate and the client.

The biggest tip I can give candidates is to find a good recruiter and trust them.  They are on your side and want you to succeed.  Some of the most rewarding candidate relationships I have had are those who call me first when they are unsure in the process.  And they call me first because they know we are a team and I have their best interests at heart.”

1.  For candidates who have never worked with a recruiter before, what are some common misconceptions about the process? How does is actually work?

Recruiters work on behalf of their clients.  We represent our client when we reach out to the market or when a candidate is applying for the role.  This means that recruiters are always approaching conversations with candidates with their client’s specifications and goals in mind.  In JJES’s case, we actually go one step further with this.  We partner with our clients during both active and non-active recruiting campaigns; it’s an ongoing relationship.  They seek our advice and guidance on the market and best talent, and there doesn’t have to be an active role to have these discussions.

Candidates should know that, while we are working on our client’s behalf, we always want to connect with great talent.  Potential candidates should treat us as a trusted advisor, and remember that all conversations are confidential.  We are on the same team, and we want you to succeed and be really happy in your new role.  The best relationships we have with candidates are those who allow us into their professional lives right from the start, and share with us their career goals, any challenges they experience, and the sort of leaders they need to take this next step.  Further, the very best candidate-to-recruiter relationships allow us to see your personality and approach so we can accurately judge what cultural environment is going to make you flourish.

The way that JJES works is that when a client briefs on us a new position, we approach people from our network that we believe will be the best fit based on all of the factors we are trained to assess.  If you’re presented to our client, we then walk you through the interviews and discussions you will have and prepare you for those conversations and the people you will meet.  If you receive an offer, we help you with all aspects of this and guide you through the process.  One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we have covered all aspects – with both our clients and our candidates - at the start of the campaign, so any offer that comes is in line with your expectations.

2.  Is there anything a candidate should know before working with a recruiting firm to get placed in a position?

Two things: First, candidates should know that they will have competition, as clients always want to see a range of talent, i.e. seniority, salaries and backgrounds.  You cannot control your competition, but you can control how you present and what impressions you give during the interview process. 

Secondly, candidates should know that the recruiters are on your side throughout the whole process.  We want you to succeed and to enjoy the next step in your career.  If the position turns out not to be the right one for you, there will likely be other positions, so remember to hold your head high and act with integrity at all times.  Sometimes you’re remembered for how you respond in the not-so-great times, more so than the good times; people’s true character is often showed when it is being truly tested.

3.  What sort of advice do your clients most commonly seek your counsel on during an active campaign? 

Our clients want to know how candidates perform throughout the whole experience with us.  They ask us, and seek our judgment on, things such as: How easy are they to deal with?; How responsive are they?; How engaged are they?; What’s their communication style?  We are obliged to share with our clients all of these factors when we are assessing and making judgments and decisions about candidates.  We bring our clients into the picture so they understand our perspective.

Our clients also want to know the market indicators and influencers so they can be educated and be confident in their hiring choices.  The current state of any particular market, the salary data, the bonuses, and what their competitors are doing.  This type of information is shared with our clients as we are in this data every day and can offer this perspective.

4.  What factors might cause you to change the advice you give to your clients during an active campaign?

Our clients partner with us because we are in the market every day and know it inside and out.  While we can advise on the talent in any market at any given time, we cannot control how much talent there is.  Some of our clients prefer to see multiple candidates in a market where the talent pool is very low.  Other clients may only wish to meet a couple of people in a market where it is flush with exactly what they’re after. 

The most challenging campaigns for us are where are clients are looking for something that simply does not exist in that market at that level at that time.  When this happens we work with them to find alternatives based on their existing team’s capabilities. More often than not this is achieved, but there needs to be a very deliberate re-alignment so our client understands the context of our advice.

5.  Do you have any further advice for candidates who want to connect with recruiters to find work? 

Our job is to always have a very wide network in order to be able to best help our clients. We thrive on meeting new talent.  But, we are trained to begin the interview process candidates right from the start and with every communication.  Think about it… the best indicator of future performance and behavior is to look at how you have displayed these qualities in the past.  It may sound trite, but typos, grammar mistakes, and a lack of formality, these are all things that we must take into consideration going forward.  Don’t underestimate the power of an external or agency recruiter, an internal staff recruiter, or a Human Resources professional.  These people are often key decisions makers during the process and will help make decisions about who to take forward in the process.

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Kate Harry is a Senior Recruiting Manager with J. Johnson Executive Search, Inc. (JJES) who specializes in placing marketing and business development talent into law firms across the U.S.  She can be reached at kate@jjohnsonexecsearch.com.

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